Top Small Business Credit Cards for Illustration Businesses
Depending on your business’s expenses and cash flow, you should be able to use the different reward systems strategically to maximize the benefit to your bottom line.
Note: In most cases, small business credit card applications are based on your personal credit score. Be sure to know if you qualify before you apply for a new card.
These are the top three cards available right now for illustration businesses. If you know your credit isn't stellar, check out our Top 4 Cards For Building Credit.
Building Business Credit
Many new small business owners don’t start out with a stellar credit history. If this is your situation, you can use a starter credit card to help build your business credit over time. Once you’ve established some credit history and raised your score, you’ll gain access to better financing options, which can be useful when you want to expand your illustration business.
Secured cards are a popular starter card option that require collateral to use. You can open a line of credit with a cash deposit, then use the card to make your business purchases. When you pay off your card balance each month, you’ll start to establish your credit and eventually become eligible for additional credit card options.
CAPITAL ONE SECURED MASTERCARD (PERSONAL CARD)
Ideal for: Business owners with poor (or no) credit history who want to build their credit without a significant up-front investment.
This personal credit card is a great place to start for business owners who have poor (or no) credit history and lack the cash to make a sizeable security deposit. This card carries all the power of regular MasterCard credit cards (e.g., roadside assistance, travel accident insurance, etc.) with no annual fee. Since this isn’t a business credit card, you’ll have to manually separate your business and personal expenses.
REWARDS AND BENEFITS (TERMS APPLY)
- Access to a higher credit line as long as you make your first five monthly payments on time
- Pick your due date and method of payment (e.g., check, online, or local branch)
- $0 fraud liability
- Free authorized users
- No annual fee
- Required security deposit of $49, $99, or $200
- No balance transfer fee
- No foreign transaction fee
- 3% or $10 cash advance fee (whichever is greater per transaction)
Cash Back Rewards
A cash back credit card offers illustration business owners a flat rate of cash back for every purchase made with the card. You can use your card to buy illustration supplies, advertising, equipment, and even your utilities. The more you use your cash back rewards card each month, the more money get back.
While the standard cash back rate is 2%, some cards offer higher rates of cash back for certain purchases. So, if your business has recurring purchases each month in a specific area, a specialty card may make it possible to earn more cash back annually.
CAPITAL ONE SPARK BUSINESS
Ideal for: Business owners who want the highest rewards for the least amount of effort, and who don’t mind an annual fee.
Talk about straightforward: You earn 2% cash back on all purchases—and without any spending caps. There’s also a nice early spend bonus that eclipses the $95 annual fee that kicks in the second year.
REWARDS AND BENEFITS (TERMS APPLY)
- Early-spend bonus of $500 after you spend $4,500 within three months of opening an account
- 2% cash back on all purchases
- Free employee cards
- Quarterly and annual spending reports
- Waived annual fee for the first year, then $95.
- No balance transfer fee.
- No foreign transaction fee.
- 3% or $10 cash advance fee (whichever is greater per transaction).
0% Introductory Rate
A 0% introductory APR credit card makes it easy to make important purchases for your illustration business right now. Then, once you’ve started to bring in more revenue, you can pay off the card balance in full before your intro period offer ends and you start accruing interest.
Be sure to pay close attention to the length of the interest-free intro period offered with your 0% APR card. Most of these cards offer zero interest on purchases for 12 months, but this can vary. You’ll need to plan accordingly to pay off your card before your introductory period expires.
AMERICAN EXPRESS BLUE BUSINESS PLUS
Ideal for: New business owners, and those with irregular cash flow, who don’t travel overseas.
This card’s 0% intro APR offer lasts 12 months, one of the longest on this list. That makes it an ideal card for brand-new businesses and those whose cash flow is temporarily unpredictable.
What is predictable: If you use this card overseas, you’ll pay an extra 2.7% foreign transaction fee, which is a surcharge if your purchase passes through a foreign bank. Unlike, say, annual fees that are often offset with upgraded rewards and benefits, you get nothing but the fee for your trouble. If you travel out of the country for business, this isn’t the card you should use.
REWARDS AND BENEFITS (TERMS APPLY)
- 0% intro APR for 12 months
- 2x points per dollar spent on the first $50,000 of every calendar year
- 2x points on business purchases like office supplies and client dinners
- 1x point per dollar spent after that
- Spend Manager: American Express mobile app. Helps add receipts and notes to transactions
- Get up to 99 employee cards for free
- Spend beyond your credit limit
- Exclusive access to ticket pre-sales and cardmember-only events in your city
- Complimentary ShopRunner membership: Provides two-day shipping at participating retailers
- American Express personal loans: Apply for a pre-approved loan of $3,500 to $25,000
- Access to Quickbooks to label and transfer your transaction data from American Express
- No annual fee
- No cash advance fee
- 3% or $5 balance transfer fee (whichever is greater per transaction)
- 2.7% foreign transaction fee
Cards For Multiple Uses
Most businesses start with one card that fits their largest need and transfer most or all of their expenses to that card. Once you get to a certain size, however, it may make sense to have different cards with specific rewards programs catering to the different types of expenses you have. Most larger businesses use multiple cards to optimize for rewards.
Remember, you aren't limited to just one credit card, just be careful not to overextend yourself for unnecessary purposes.
How to Qualify for Small Business Credit Cards
Unless your business has a positive credit history of its own, your eligibility will be based on your personal credit rating. If you have a new or existing business that has never had a credit card or loan before, it’s likely that your business has no credit history.
Since your personal credit will be measured when you apply for a business credit card, it’s wise to have a good idea of what your credit score is.
If you don’t know your credit score, check out our article: How To Find Your Credit Score.
Once you have your score you can make a decision on which card to apply for. If you have good, great, or excellent credit, then go for one of the cards at the top of this article! If your credit isn’t quite there yet, check out our article: What Business Credit Card Can I Get With My Credit Score?
The great thing about credit scores is that they can be improved over time! We have a great article on the Best Business Credit Cards To Build Credit.
A rejected credit application can have a negative effect on your credit score, so act with responsibility and make careful decisions when deciding to apply.
Recommended: Learn How to Build Business Credit to help establish your business's fundability, get lower interest rates on loans, higher lines of credit, and sign up for all of this in your business's name, instead of yours.
Why You Should Get A Small Business Credit Card
There are many reasons why a company would want to have a business credit card. Depending on the type of business you operate, the strategies you employ may be different than one another, but we will describe the basic benefits of small business credit cards.
Separates Personal And Business Expenses
No matter the size of your company, you should keep all of your business finances separate from your personal finances. This means paying any bills you have in the business from a business account and paying for all personal expenses from a personal account.
This separation accomplishes two main tasks:
- Simplified Accounting - Keeping your accounts separate will allow you to fully understand the numbers of your business. If you have personal dollars in a business bank account or vice versa, it will be more difficult to understand how much you are spending, how much your revenue is, and therefore, your bottom line.
- Prevents Commingling - Commingling funds is one of the most basic and damaging errors a small business can make. Separating your funds, along with operating your business in a structure such as an LLC, will create your corporate veil. A corporate veil works to keep your personal assets safe if your business is ever sued.
There should never be a reason to mix your business and personal money, even if you run a small sole-proprietorship. The risks are too great, and there are no benefits.
Before you get a small business credit card, if you haven’t opened a business checking account for your company, you should do that right now.
Smooths Inconsistent Cash Flow
Some businesses, such as those with long sales cycles, can often go a few months without revenue, then see a large spike when a sale is finalized.
While it’s exciting to see large numbers come in all at once, it can be stressful in the meantime to pay bills, salaries, and other expenses with little to no income.
Credit cards offer business owners the ability to spend money that they haven’t made yet, capitalizing on future sales right now.
While you absolutely need to be careful about spending money you don’t have, this is a method that businesses can use to keep the doors open between sales cycles.
Credit Card Rewards
There are two main types of business credit card rewards: cash back and travel rewards.
Cash Back Rewards
There are multiple ways a small business can get the most out of cash back rewards programs.
For each dollar that your small business spends with these credit cards, you can get some money back. Some cards even have higher rates for specific purchases.
For example, businesses that do a lot of road travel can maximize their driving costs with a card that offers cash back on gas purchases.
Other businesses may require a lot of office supplies and can find a cash back or points program that rewards them for these costs or others like telecommunications, advertising, shipping, and more.
Finally, most cash back cards offer a flat percentage rate back on general purchases.
On the other hand, businesses that fly to visit conferences, do on-site visits with clients, or any other activities that usually involve airline trips or hotel stays can benefit from general or brand-specific travel rewards.
These usually come in the form of points or mileage rewards, where for every dollar you spend, miles you fly, nights you stay, or any other qualifying action you take, you’ll get rewarded. These build up and can be spent on upgrades, free nights and flights, and more.
Finally, there are typically premium versions of these cards that cost more in terms of annual fees but have more luxurious rewards such as access to airport lounges, events, and activities most people wouldn’t have access to.